Today I worked for several hours double-fact-checking and proofreading that infernal Dante catalogue, the one that, nearly two years into it, still isn’t printed just yet (though it’s getting closer to finished). I was reading through a chapter on American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s translation of the Divine Comedy in the book, Dante’s American Pilgrimage: A Historical Survey of Dante Studies in the United States: 1800-1944, by Angelina La Piana (Yale University Press, 1948). I came across Longfellow’s own comments on the length of time it took him to translate the epic poem from Italian into English.
“How weary I am of correcting and weighing and criticising my translation. It takes more time than it did to make it [the original work]”.
It took Longfellow from 1843 until 1867 to complete his entire translation. I certainly don’t consider myself Longfellow, and I’m doing nothing as important as translating Dante’s work, but given the amount of time it has taken me to track down, acquire, research, describe, price, and catalogue the books for the Dante catalogue, I can say I think I know just how Longfellow must have felt when he wrote the above quote.
Back to work now. I am hoping to be unlike Longfellow by finishing my catalogue in less than 24 years. 😉
See you in the stacks!